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Elusive Gamma Rays Beware: GLAST Investigation Selected

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  • Mark A. LeCuyer
    Source: NASA February 28, 2000 Dolores Beasley Headquarters, Washington, DC (Phone: 202/358-1753) RELEASE: 00-32 Elusive Gamma Rays Beware: GLAST
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 29, 2000
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      Source: NASA
      February 28, 2000

      Dolores Beasley
      Headquarters, Washington, DC
      (Phone: 202/358-1753)

      RELEASE: 00-32

      Elusive Gamma Rays Beware: GLAST Investigation Selected

      NASA today announced the selection of an investigation to be
      flown on the Gamma Ray Large Area Space Telescope (GLAST) mission,
      planned for launch in 2005. In addition to the flight investigation,
      NASA selected four interdisciplinary scientist investigations to
      broaden the scientific expertise available to the project.

      GLAST will explore the most energetic and violent events in a
      quest for the ultimate sources of energy in the Universe. Objects
      explored will include distant galaxies fueled by super massive black
      holes at the center, neutron stars and individual black holes,
      remnants of stars that have ended their life with an explosion
      (supernova), and many others at the extremes of mass and energy.

      Almost 300 objects have been observed to emit high-energy gamma
      rays and yet less than half of these have been identified with objects
      seen at other wavelengths. What mysteries are lurking in these
      illusive objects? The GLAST mission will also explore the very
      high-energy component of gamma-ray bursts, still one of the greatest
      mysteries of astrophysics.

      Even the dimmest of these bursts is as bright as the brightest of
      the steady high-energy gamma-ray sources. The discovery of
      high-energy gamma rays from these mostly low-energy gamma-ray events
      constrains the models for the gamma-ray "flash bulbs." The major
      improvement in sensitivity and precision of the observations will
      provide an opportunity for new discoveries. One possibility is the
      search for evidence for some of the most exotic particles predicted by
      physicists to be candidates for the dark matter of the Universe.

      The GLAST mission's primary scientific objectives require an
      instrument with large collecting area, imaging capability over a very
      large field of view, the ability to measure the energy of the gamma
      rays over an unprecedented range of energies, and time precision to
      study transient phenomena characteristic of gamma-ray sources. The
      instrument must be carefully designed in order to weed out the rare
      gamma rays from the much more abundant cosmic rays, and other
      backgrounds such as gamma rays produced by these cosmic rays slamming
      into the molecules in the Earth's atmosphere.

      The investigation selected by NASA is the "GLAST Large Area
      Telescope Flight Investigation: A Particle-Astrophysics Partnership
      to Explore the High-Energy Universe." The Principal Investigator is
      Professor Peter F. Michelson of Stanford University. The
      investigation is a collaborative international effort involving a
      major contribution from the U.S. Department of Energy, and
      contributions from France,
      Italy, Japan and Sweden. The instrument covers the energy range from
      10 million to 1 trillion electron volts. It has about 50 times the
      sensitivity of any previous gamma-ray investigation and covers a much
      broader energy range with high angular precision.

      NASA's cost to develop the GLAST mission is approximately $200
      million, which includes approximately $70 million for the primary
      instrument.

      The four interdisciplinary scientists selected and their
      investigations are:

      * Stephen Thorsett of the University of California at Santa Cruz,
      "Observations of Rotation Powered Pulsars in Support of GLAST." This
      work will provide important information to allow the study of gamma
      rays from pulsars by the primary instrument.

      * Professor Brenda Dingus of the University of Wisconsin, Madison,
      "GLAST: A GeV All-Sky Monitor of Transient Phenomena." The purpose of
      this investigation is to alert other space- and ground-based observers
      of the occurrence of a transient phenomenon, such as a gamma-ray burst
      or gamma-ray flaring quasar, so that the object may be observed at
      many wavelengths simultaneously to obtain the most information
      possible.

      * Dr. Charles D. Dermer of the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory,
      Washington, D.C., "Exploring the Nonthermal Universe: Analysis and
      Modeling to Maximize the Scientific Impact of GLAST." This
      investigation will provide a theoretical framework for the GLAST
      studies.

      * Dr. Martin Pohl , Ruhr University, Bochum, Germany, "Modeling the
      diffuse galactic gamma-ray emission." The model provided in this work
      is essential to the analysis of GLAST data.

      Mark

      Alien Astronomer - "Exploring Our Universe"
      http://www.geocities.com/Area51/Shadowlands/6583
      Astronomy - Hi-Tech/Secret Projects - Secret Societies - Ufology
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